By Omar Sattar, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
The Iraqi government has embarked on the construction of a wall around Baghdad to protect the capital from terror attacks that have been ongoing since 2003 and to isolate it from hotbeds in the northern and western parts of the country. Sunnis object to the move, fearing the wall will deepen internal divisions.
There are conflicting reports on the height and route of the barrier. The Baghdad Operations Command said in a press statement Feb. 3 that the capital will be surrounded by concrete barriers, half of them repurposed from existing ones inside Baghdad. The wall will rise to between 3 and 7 meters (10 and 23 feet) high and have a 2-meter-deep (7-foot) trench, according to al-Sumaria.
Regularly spaced control towers will also be established. Five groups of Iraqi military engineers will take part in the construction project, which started Feb. 1. The wall will ultimately engulf the surroundings of the capital and stretch over 300 kilometers (186 miles).
Baghdad Operations Command's Lt. Gen. Abdul Ameer al-Shammari confirmed in a Feb. 10 press statement that the wall is being built for security reasons and no concrete barriers and trenches will run along private lands or areas outside Baghdad. The entire capital would become like the fortified Green Zone, where government headquarters and international embassies are located.
Contrary to the authorities’ claims, the Sunni Union of Nationalist Forces insists that the wall goes beyond the administrative border of Baghdad and there are no security reasons for it. Member Hamid al-Mutlaq told Al-Monitor, “The concrete wall will inevitably exceed the administrative border of the capital and take possession of parts of Anbar, which security authorities intend to annex to Baghdad and Babil. Moreover, it will pass through private agricultural lands.”